Among Us is undoubtedly the unexpected smash hit of 2020, despite it’s 2018 launch date. It has had enormous viewership on Twitch, sold extremely well on Steam, and has dominated various subreddits with its memes. The title’s simplicity and its suitability as a party game are key components of its success. Players who enjoy the concept of trying to catch a secret group of imposters within a larger team, but want a more complex experience may want to look at Town of Salem.
Town of Salem is free to play on browser, or can be purchased through Steam. There are 2 currencies on offer in the form of Merit Points (can be earned through playing) and Town Points (paid currency, although you can occasionally earn them). The points can be used to buy cosmetic items such as skins, pets and death animations, but there is no purchase that will give you an edge during a game. The only item that has any gameplay effect is the Scroll, which can be purchased with either currency, and dramatically increases your chance of being a certain role (the scroll is then consumed when you end up being selected as that class). Buying the Steam version earns you some Town Points, and you can buy the Coven DLC, which mixes up the gameplay with new roles, on both versions of the game.
Town of Salem uses the same concept as Mafia or Werewolf, where a ‘Town’ team tries to discover and eliminate the smaller ‘Mafia’ team, who are trying to eliminate the Town before they are discovered. There are 15 players in a game, and ToS mixes things up by throwing in some neutral roles who have their own objective. Each role has a unique ability to help achieve their own goal or to benefit their team, so unlike in Among Us, not being part of the smaller team does not mean you are relegated to doing some random tasks. The game is split into day and night phases, with the night phases being where players can make use of their abilities, and the day phases involve revealing who was killed that night, discussion of player’s findings, and voting to potentially execute a player. The main Mafia role’s abilities revolve around killing players, with some more deception roles available in ranked matches. Initially they will not know the exact roles of the other players, so they have to consider their kills. The Town roles are mainly about information gathering, with some protection and disruption roles as well. The Investigator can investigate a player to narrow down what role they might be. Similarly, the Sheriff can check if a player is a Mafia member, but this effect does not work on the Mafia leader, and both roles have to watch out for the Mafia’s Framer, who can make a Town player appear guilty. The Town does have some killing roles, but each one runs a risk of killing a Town player by mistake.
There are a set number of roles in the game, so Mafia and Neutral players will have to lie about their roles in order to not be executed, which will inevitably cause disputes, and Town players will have to convince everyone that their information can be relied upon.
It is possible that you can die quite early in the game, possibly even on the first night before you have a real chance to do anything. If you are playing a neutral role or just want to start a new game, you can quickly switch to another one without any issues. However, death does not necessarily result in a game over for the player. Even if you are killed during the course of the game, you are able to leave behind a will with any information you gathered. For example, if you were playing an Investigator and could prove someone was lying, you can leave this info behind for the remaining Town players. As your role is revealed upon death, your information is trustworthy and you can help your team. Additionally, the Town has the Medium role, who can speak to the dead at night, so if you obtained some info on the same night you died, you can relay that to the Medium, although this player will need to convince the town they are trustworthy.
Town of Salem does sadly inherit some of the same issues as Among Us when it comes to players disrupting the game. Some who are unhappy with their role will simply leave straight away, which can disrupt the flow of the game. Inexperienced players can (understandably) not pick up on details or understand the nuances of the title, leading to them not contributing. Other times, players will simply make decisions devoid of logic, sometimes in an effort to throw the game. Thankfully the Scrolls help alleviate the problem of being a class you don’t want to play as, but the problem of player’s not wanting to cooperate can’t be avoided.
Town of Salem has a clever design which would likely make it intriguing for those who enjoyed Among Us. The nuances of the game, as well as having various classes to understand can make the title a bit daunting for new players, but once you get used to it Town of Salem is a lot of fun. Some players might ruin some matches, but this is also true of any multiplayer title. It’s a free to play game which manages to avoid having pay to win elements, so you have little to lose, and potentially a lot of fun to have.